In the United States, more people can trace their ancestry to Germanic roots than any other national or ethnic background. However, having a German ancestor does not mean that ancestor came from what constitutes modern day Germany. Throughout history, German speaking people lived throughout Europe, “from the Baltic to the Crimea, from the Czech Republic to Belgium.” Over time, identifying and researching archives and resources has become easier, but guidance and insight is always welcome.
Helping other search their own German ancestors, is why Angus Baxter wrote In Search of Your GERMAN ROOTS: A Complete Guide to Tracing Your Ancestors in the Germanic Areas of Europe. Since its first printing in 1987, this guide has tried to facilitate the research process by identifying archives and resources and helping researchers correspond with the managing organizations.
In the introduction, the author made this comment in describing the purpose of this book: “As you turn the pages of this book you will learn about the history of the German people; yo will find out what resources are available; and you will find out where to locate these sources of information.” Stated plainly, this should be the purpose of any genealogical research guide. In authoring In search of Your GERMAN ROOTS, Baxter keeps focus on this purpose, not wasting words or pages, but imparting highly valuable guidance in only 125 pages.
Now in its fifth edition, and with the increased access to research via the Internet, this guide takes a strong roll in guiding readers to finding resources online, handles easily from home. Correspondence and research requests are still key to success, but today email is more common than letters or phone call, and online accessible databases reduce the amount of leg work involved in finding and identifying records.
“This edition of the book highlights all of the recent developments—new facilities, new websites, newly available records—that have made German family history research immeasurably easier.”
Here are just a few of the ‘developments’ in recent years that are covered inside this book:
- Kirchenbuchportal, a new Internet portal to German church records
- Availability of online Jewish records from Landesarchiv Daden-Wuerttemerg (previously only available by visiting the archive in Stuttgard)
- Online access to approximately 2,000 historic German-language newspapers
- Easier access to vital records in Germany due to a change in privacy laws
- and so much more…
Angus Baxter authored this book and made all the changes to its second and third editions. After passing in 2005, his daughter Susan Baxter updated the book for its forth edition. This new completely updated and revised fifth edition was by Marian Hofffman. To this fifth edition Susan Baxter added this heartfelt dedication to her father, indirectly acknowledging what we can all feel in reward to dedicated family history research:
“All my life I have known exactly where I come from; not just the town of my birth, but the roots and lives of my ancestors. I know the roads they walked, the fields they farmed, and the sheep they sold at market. I have even seen the houses where some of them lived This is entirely because of my father, Angus Baxter, and his passion for genealogy. The contentment it has brought me is beyond measure. I am so lucky to have had the parents I did. My father loved life and he loved his family. My mother, my daughter, and I all basked in this love. Thank you, Daddy. I miss you.”
Chapter 1: Starting the Search
Chapter 2: The Germans and Germany
Chapter 3: The Records of FamiliySearch
Chapter 4: Jewish Records
Chapter 5: Church Records
Chapter 6: Immigration
Chapter 7: Vital and Other Records
Chapter 8: Archives in Germany
Chapter 9: Genealogical Associations in Germany
Chapter 10: German Genealogical Associations in North America
Chapter 11: Online Resources
Chapter 12: Continuation
In Search of Your GERMAN ROOTS: A Complete Guide to Tracing Your Ancestors in the Germanic Areas of Europe is available from Family Roots Publishing (just click the book title to order)
Comments made about previous editions of this book:
“The book contains numerous lists: lists of churches, dates and lists of time periods for people who migrated to Russia, state, city, and parish archives (Protestant and Catholic), and in addition to the associations in North America, Mr. Baxter has provided a list of genealogical societies in Europe. . . . In Search of Your German Roots will most definitely provide you with a very comprehensive guide to locating your German ancestor. It is an orderly description and you need to use it in an orderly manner to gain the greatest benefit.”
German Genealogical Society of America (Jan/Feb 1996)
“This edition is an update of the original edition published in 1985, and it therefore includes details of changes brought about by the reunification of Germany. It contains German addresses with the new five-digit postal code and covers changes in local government, the locations of record offices, and record-keeping practices. Baxter’s work is recommended for public library collections as well as genealogy collections in academic libraries.”
American Reference Books Annual, 1995